Kenyan lodge Treetops where Princess Elizabeth became Queen to close

Kenya’s oldest safari lodge Treetops where Princess Elizabeth learned of her father’s death and became Queen has been forced to close due to the pandemic – after being recreated for The Crown

  • Kenya’s oldest safari lodge Treetops has been forced to close after 90 years
  • Was where Princess Elizabeth became Queen and told of George VI’s death
  • Become one of three historical hotels forced to close due to the pandemic 

The Kenyan safari lodge which was the place where Princess Elizabeth became Queen has been forced to close after nearly 90 years of welcoming royalty.

Kenya’s oldest safari lodge, Treetops – an elaborate treehouse on the edge of a watering hole in Kenya’s Aberdare National Park – was where the monarch ‘went up the tree a Princess and came down a Queen.’

It was during a two-day safari on February 6, 1952 that Her Majesty, then aged 25, succeeded George VI who had died in his sleep at Sandringham. 

An aide remarked that Prince Philip, who was given the message, looked as if half the world had fallen in on him. He broke the news to the new Queen while they were alone and hours later they were on their way back home. 

In series one of Netflix’s The Crown, the famous Treetops Hotel in Kenya was re-created at a game reserve near Cape Town. 

During a nail-biting scene in episode two, Claire Foy, who portrayed Queen Elizabeth, is nearly killed by charging elephants, but a brave Prince Philip distracts one before chasing the enraged animal off. 

The Kenyan safari lodge where Princess Elizabeth became Queen has been forced to close after nearly 90 years of welcoming royalty. Pictured, with Prince Philip in February 1952

Claire Foy (pictured) portraying Princess Elizabeth at Treetops in Kenya in series 1 of The Crown 

Queen Elizabeth ll and Prince Philip, Duke of Edinburgh visit the Treetops Hotel on November 13, 1983 in Nairobi, Kenya

The Queen had been staying at Treetops 30 years before when she learnt of the death of her father.

Elizabeth was not originally destined to become Queen. However, she became heir presumptive after her father, King George VI, ascended to the throne following the abdication of his older brother, King Edward VIII.

Edward had given up the throne to wed American divorcee Wallis Simpson, as marrying a woman who had separated from her husband was deemed incompatible with his role as head of the Church of England.

During the afternoon before hearing the news of King George VI’s death, Princess Elizabeth spent the day with her camera snapping charging rhinos and a waterbuck goring a rival to death from her elevated vantage point.   

Wooden debris show remainings of the original location of the former tree house where Britain’s Queen Elizabeth II of England stayed the night her father, the King, died and became Queen in 1952 at Treetops Lodge in Aberdare Narional Park in Nyeri, Kenya, on April 10

Princess Anne, guarded by senior hunter Colonel Eric Hayes-Newington, walking through the bush to Kenya’s Treetops Hotel. It was a sentimental journey for the Princess in February 1952

Jim Corbett – her armed escort – later told that when she was invited to come for tea, the princess requested taking it on the balcony, saying: ‘I don’t want to miss one moment of this.’

In the Treetops logbook, Corbett penned: ‘For the first time in the history of the world, a young girl climbed into the tree as a princess and climbed down as a queen.’ 

Following the royal visit to Treetops, the lodge quickly became the world’s most famous treehouse – and it wasn’t long before the couple returned in 1959 and 1983.

Treetops was also used by British colonial soldiers as the base for their snipers, but it was burnt down by Mau Mau guerrillas in 1954. 

A new Treetops then took shape on the other side of the watering hole where it has remained, with guests even able to retrace (as long as they have an armed guide) the jungle walk which Princess Elizabeth made in 1952.

However, it has since become one of three historical hotels in Kenya’s Nyeri county being forced to close due to the pandemic. 

The Kenya Wildlife Service has reported a drop in tourist revenue of more than 90 per cent since travel restrictions were introduced.  

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